for four tubas

  • four F tubas
Listen to a recording
USC Bass Tuba Quartet
Information on the sheet music
Commissioned by
  • Jim Self, for the USC Bass Tuba Quartet
Program note

When I received a call in the summer of 2013 from tuba legend Jim Self asking me if I would be interested in composing a short, virtuosic romp for four F tubas, I found myself reaching for my pencils even as Jim finished his first sentence.

There followed several skype sessions with the USC Bass Tuba Quartet, Jim’s top-flight ensemble of four insanely talented young tuba players—Brandon Davis, Danny Garcia, Charlie Mann, and Michael Murrin.  Collectively, Jim and the quartet asked me for a thoroughly democratic work, one in which each of the four parts would require a comprehensive technical command of the instrument in both agility and range. In other words, Tuba 1 was not to be stationed relentlessly in the stratosphere spewing melodic material; and Tuba 4 was not to be chained mercilessly in the dungeon laying goose eggs.  Indeed, as per their request, Whiplash requires all four players to weave in and out among themselves in a kaleidoscopic game of high-stakes tag as each part turns on a dime at an unusually rapid pace, all the while executing challenging music that explores the extremes of high and low, loud and soft, lyrical and gnarly.

Whiplash (marked “Like trolls exercising”) was commissioned by Jim Self for the 2013-14 USC Bass Tuba Quartet and was composed between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2013. The music is dedicated with robust thanks to the four brilliantly-talented tubists for whom it was written, with a knowing nod of deep respect to Jim Self for his well-documented and unceasing commitment to expand the scope and content of offerings in the tuba and tuba ensemble repertoires.